Spoleto 2017

Luba Podgaskaya - Piano


Russian born Luba Podgayskaya has been living in the Netherlands since 2008. Both a pianist and a harpsichordist, she graduated from the Saint-Petersburg Conservatory in 2008. Additional degrees include a Bachelor and Double Masters degree from the Royal Conservatoire where she studied piano with David Kuijken and harpsichord with Jacques Ogg.

Luba has won several prizes: 1st Prize on the International Piano Competition “Resonances” (Paris, France, 2014), a prize winner of the festival “In every music there is Bach” (Petrozavodsk, Russia, 2000), 3d Prize in the international B. Asafiev competition (Great Novgorod, Russia, 2006).

 Luba has participated in various projects such as “De Avond van de Jonge Musicus”, Grachtenfestival, International Masterclasses for Early Music (Irsee, Germany), International Clarinet Days (Izmir, Turkey), Student Philharmonic (Saint-Petersburg, Russia).

Since 2009 Luba has been working at the Royal Conservatoire, Den Haag as a vocal accompanist/repetitor. She currently works with different opera companies and projects: Opera2Day, National Opera & Ballet, Theater Transparant, Hojotoho Operastudio, McCray Operastudio.

Sayaka Selina - Cello

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Since her solo debut at the Tonhalle Zurich with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra at the age of 15, Sayaka Selina is considered one of the most exciting young artists to emerge from Switzerland.

Sayaka Selina gained international recognition in 2012, when she played Thomas Demenga's Double Cello Concerto at the Piatigorsky Festival in Los Angeles alongside the composer and the Festival Orchestra under the baton of Hugh Wolff. Since then, concerts have led her through Germany, France, Italy, Great Britain, Spain, Japan, Korea, Denmark and Norway, where she performed in venues such as the Suntory Hall in Tokyo, the Kumho Hall in Seoul and the Tonhalle Zurich.

Born in Zurich, Sayaka started playing the cello at the age of 6 with Rebecca Firth. At 15, she was admitted to Thomas Demenga's studio at the Hochschule für Musik Basel, where she graduated with honours in 2011. She then went on to study with Frans Helmerson and Jérôme Pernoo, also receiving top marks for her Masters Degree.

Other important musical advice came from personalities such as Steven Isserlis, Ralph Kirshbaum, Natalia Gutman, Miklós Perény, Natalia Shakhovskaya, Miriam Fried, Gerhard Schulz, Lars Anders Tomter, Leon Fleisher and Menahem Pressler.

Sayaka is currently pursuing her Konzertexamen Degree at the renowned “Hanns Eisler” university in Berlin with Frans Helmerson.

Sayaka is a frequent soloist with orchestras in Switzerland, such as the Zurich- and Basel Chamber Orchestras, the Zurich Camerata and the New Zurich Orchestra. In the 2017/2018 season, she is looking forward to performing Boccherinis Concerto in B major with the Camerata Zurich, as well as the premiere of a piece for violin, cello and string orchestra, written by Thomas Demenga for her and her sister, violinist Sumina Studer.

An avid chamber musician, Sayaka has performed at Festivals such as the Santander-, Verbier- and Ravinia- and VivaCello Festivals, Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad, as well as Incontri Musicali Spoleto, the Norsjø Kammermusikkfest, and the Open Chamber Music Prussia Cove, where she worked with musicians such as Frans Helmerson, Thomas Demenga, Huw Watkins, Klaus Thunemann, and members of the Kuss Quartet, the Endemyon Ensemble, and Tecchler Trio amongst others.

Sayaka has been awarded numerous prizes at national and international competitions such as the “Antonio Janigro” International Competition in Croatia, the Domenico Gabrielli Competition in Berlin, and most recently at the “Viva Hall” Cello Competition in Japan.

She has been kindly supported by several foundations, such as the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service), Migros Kulturprozent, the Yamaha-, and the Kiefer-Hablitzel Foundations.

Emma Steele- Viola


Originally a native of Chicago, Emma Steele performs both nationally and internationally as a soloist and as part of chamber ensembles. Favorite past performances have been in venues such as Orchestra Hall in Chicago, Carnegie Hall in New York, The Rudolfinum Concert Hall in Prague, and Finlandia Hall in Helsinki. Steele currently holds position as one of the concertmasters of the Royal Danish Opera Orchestra (Det Kongelige Kapel) in Copenhagen.

Steele has participated and won awards in many competitions, including in the Sibelius International Violin Competition where she became a finalist and received the Young Talent Prize. She has also received the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts Silver Award, the WAMSO Elaine Louise Lagerstrom Memorial Violin Award, and a study grant from the International Pablo de Sarasate Violin Competition 2009. She also became a finalist and Silver Prize winner in the prestigious Irving M. Klein International String Competition 2012 in San Francisco.

An avid chamber musician, she has performed on From the Top and multiple WFMT radio shows including Introductions and the Dame Myra Hess Concert Series. As part of the Violin Virtuosi, she was featured in the PBS documentary, Circling Around: The Violin Virtuosi.

Steele’s first place awards include the Walgreens, Society of American Musicians Young Artist Division, Chinese Fine Arts Society, Musicians Club of Women, and Union League Civic and Arts Foundation competitions. She has soloed with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Polish Radio Amadeus Chamber Orchestra, the Chicago Youth Concert Orchestra, the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Northwest Symphony Orchestra and the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University where she studied with Cyrus Forough, and continued her studies at the Curtis Institute of Music with Aaron Rosand.


Viller Valbonesi- Piano

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Viller Valbonesi studied in Italy with Mauro Minguzzi, Pier Narciso Masi, Fabrizio Lanzoni. From 2007 he studied with Sergio Perticaroli at the "Accademia Nazionale di S. Cecilia" in Rom, where he achieved the Diplom in 2010 with "Summa cum laude" and from 2012 he studied with Fabio Bidini at the Hochschule "Hanns Eisler" in Berlin where he graduated as Konzertexamen in 2015. Viller has performed in Italy, Spain, Austria, Germany, Norway, Japan and USA, at venues such as Philharmonie and Konzerthaus in Berlin, Friedrich-Ebert-Halle in Hamburg, "Sala Petrassi" and "Sala S. Cecilia" in Rome, Sala dei Giganti in Padova, Teatro Malibran in Venezia, Troldhaugen in Bergen, Wiener Saal in Salzburg... He also performed as soloist with orchestras with many conductors, including Ovidiu Balan, Enrique Bàtiz, Christian Ehwald, Alberto Malazzi.

He is also active as a chamber musician and song accompanist. Since 2012 he is a member of the "Berolina Ensemble", recording 3 Cds with the label MDG. With this label he makes his appearance also as a soloist in the release „Rudorff Chamber Music“ (2015), interpreting Ernst Rudorff ́s piano works. The Berolina Ensemble won two times the prestigious „Echo Preis", the most important musical prize in German: the prize as "Best Ensemble of the year" in 2014 and the prize for the "best 19th century chamber music recording" in 2016.

Viller won other important prizes in many piano competitions, including Berliner Klavierwettbewerb, international Schubert Competition in Dortmund, International Arcangelo Speranza Competition in Taranto, International Val Tidone Competition, International Porrino Competition in Cagliari, International Scriabin Competition in Grosseto and „Premio Venezia“.

Viller is also a very active piano teacher: in the academic year 2015/2016 he was Fabio Bidini's assistent at the International Courses in Music Performance "Talent Music Masters" in Brescia . In 2015 he held the same role also at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler“ in Berlin. Since 2016 he teaches piano at the „Bela Bartok“ Musikschule in Berlin and secondary piano at the anns Eisler Hochschule für Musik Berlin.

Lucie Chartin- Soprano

"When I grow up I want to be a pianist, a singer or a cleaning lady." 

Having explored both the piano and the cleaning options, Lucie is now pursuing her vocation as a singer. Born and raised in the south of France, her childhood was characterised by an endless round of piano and flute lessons. She participated successfully in a few competitions and won the second and first prize of her category at the Concorso Pianistico Nazionale di Cesenatico.

After finishing her piano degree 'cum laude' at barely 14 years old, she studied singing at the Early Music Department of the Amsterdam Conservatoire, from which she graduated in 2015 with the highest distinction. 

As a soloist she performed under the direction of Gijs Leenaars, Daniël Reuss, Richard Egarr, Sigiswald Kuyken, Yannick Nézét-Seguin and Hernán Schwartzman. She performed with orchestra’s such as The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Asko Schönberg, The Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, in concerts venues including Tokyo International Forum, De Doelen (Rotterdam), Muziektheater aan't IJ, (Amsterdam), der Tonhalle (Düsseldorf), Royal Theater (The Hague) and Tivoli Vredenburg (Utrecht).

In opera she sung the role of Belinda in Dido and Aeneas under Richard Egarr in Amsterdam, and created the role of Mariken's Soul in Mariken in de tuin der Lusten by Callioppe Tsoupaki with the company OPERA2DAY. She then performed the coloratura part in their next production, Dr Miracle's Last Illusion. Both productions were live captured on DVD.

She made her debut at the Dutch National Opera with Before Present, a co-production with Amsterdam Dance Event staged by Sjaron Minailo, with another tailor-made composition this time by Anat Spiegel.

She just finished her first commercial recording with l'Orchestre de Suisse Romande and l'Ensemble Vocal de Lausanne, Le Roi David by Arthur Honegger. 

Upcoming engagement include Ophélie in Hamlet (Ambroise Thomas) with OPERA2DAY and the part of Iseult in Frank Martin's Le Vin Herbé with the Sao Paulo Symphonic Orchestra.


Sam Almaguer- Clarinet

A native of San Antonio, Texas, Samuel Almaguer is the principal clarinetist of the North Carolina Symphony. Previous to his time in North Carolina, Sam has also performed with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. As a chamber musician, Sam has been featured with Incontri Musicali in Spoleto, Italy and the Cactus Pear Music Festival in San Antonio. Sam’s performances have been broadcast on WGBH Boston, WUNC in the Research Triangle, and on local television in Los Angeles. At a young age he was featured on National Public Radio’s “From the Top” with pianist Christopher O’Riley. Sam is also an avid pursuer of contemporary music, having been featured as a guest artist with the Festival of Contemporary Music at Tanglewood, Wild Up in Los Angeles, and various projects with the North Carolina Symphony.While in school, Sam was a fellow at both the Tanglewood Music Center and Music Academy of the West. He received his undergraduate degree at The Colburn School in Los Angeles, CA and attended Rice University for graduate studies. His primary teachers include Yehuda Gilad, Richie Hawley, and Ilya Shterenberg. Sam is a Vandoren Emerging Artist.

Mathis Rochat- Viola

Mathis Rochat was born in Geneva in 1994 and grew up in France before moving to Cologne (Germany) in 2006. He began his musical studies in the „Accademia d’Archi“ on the violin and switched over to the viola at the age of 13, taught by Prof. Bernhard Oll. In 2010 Mathis Rochat entered the studio of Prof. Antoine Tamestit at the Cologne University of Music and studied there as a “young student“ until 2013. He is currently studying with Prof. Tatjana Masurenko at the University of Music and Theatre »Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy« Leipzig and attended many masterclasses e.g „IMS Prussia Cove“, „Kronberg Academy masterclasses“ and „Blonay masterclasses“ with renamed professors such as Tabea Zimmermann, Nobuko Imai, Hartmuth Rode, Thomas Riebl, Lars Anders Tomter, the Auryn and Vogler String Quartets and the Ensemble Modern Frankfurt. During his time as solo violist of the German national youth orchestra, Mathis Rochat worked with conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Markus Stenz, Sebastian Weigle and Michael Sanderling. As a chamber musician he enjoyed playing with artists such as Alasdair Beatson, Thomas Reif, Francois-Xavier Poizat, Brian O'Kane at Xiamen international music festival (China), "Musique à Marsac" (France). As a soloist Mathis Rochat appeared at the "Mecklenburg Vorpommern Festspiele 2015" playing the Walton Viola concerto with the "Norddeutsche-Philharmonie Rostock" under Wojciech Rajski . Between 2007 and 2010 Mathis Rochat was awarded numerous times in solo and chamber music  ategories of the German national youth music competition “Jugend Musiziert“ and was Prize winner of the “Maria Pajmanns-Kania Preis 2008“. He is laureate of two international competitions; the “Cecil Aronowitz international competition Birmingham 2014“ and the “ 53th Beethoven international competition 2015“.

Niccoló Muti - Violin


In his young career, Niccoló Muti has already established himself as a versatile musician. He is the Founder and Artistic Director of Incontri Musicali, an annual chamber music festival that brings classical music’s most-promising young talents to Spoleto, Italy for three weeks of chamber music performances each summer. He is also an avid conductor and has studied extensively with his father, conductor Lorenzo Muti.

As a violinist, Niccoló has performed in concerts across the U.S. and Europe, including appearances in Switzerland, Norway, the Czech Republic, and as featured soloist with the National Orchestra of Romania in Italy. He is currently assistant conductor of the Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle in Durham, North Carolina.

Niccoló received his Bachelor's degree in Violin Performance from Indiana, where he studied with Mimi Zweig. He completed his Master’s Degree at Rice University, where he was awarded the Vicki West Prize to study with Kathleen Winkler. An accomplished (former) ballet dancer, Niccoló still likes to go out dancing for fun. He also enjoys playing tennis, cheering for his favorite soccer team (Juventus FC), and exploring new cuisines and wines.